Domestic Tourism Growth Slower Than Previously Suggested, According To Revised Figures

Figures for the 2016 Great Britain Day Visits Survey (GBDVS), conducted by VisitBritain, have been revised to account for a data processing issue and an inflation effect derived from changes to the methodology.

Previously published figures indicated the number of day visits increased by 14%, with spending up by 10%. The revised figures show day visits have actually increased by 5%, with spending up by 3%.

Although this has been revised down from the original report, it is still a positive result – the 2015 survey found a 4% decline from 2014 – 2015 in visit volume, and no change in expenditure.

The North East of England saw the biggest growth in visit volume from 2015-2016 at 17%, while South East England saw a decline of 3% – the only region to see a drop in visit volume. Other regions saw growth between 3% and 8%.

Visit volume growth was not necessarily reflected in the value of visits however, with no change in revenue found in the North East despite a rise in visitor numbers, and a 13% increase in the South East despite a drop in visitors.

The East Midlands saw the highest growth in visit value at 19%, while the West Midlands and South West England saw the biggest decline at 22%.

The GBDVS measures the volume, value and trip characteristics of domestic tourism day visits in Britain. A ‘tourism day visit’ is defined as one that involves participation in at least one of 15 identified leisure activities, have lasted at least 3 hours including travel, not be an activity which is undertaken ‘very regularly’, and be in a destination outside the respondant’s place of residence (with the exception of trips to special public events, live sporting events and visitor attractions).

Launched in 2011, the survey uses an online methodology with weekly interviews and an annual sample of around 35,000 adults.

Changes to the methodology were introduced for the first time in January 2016, including merging the GBDVS with its sister survey, the Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS). The weekly sample size was also increased from 673 to 1,000.

It was noted that the volume of visits reported was significantly higher than in any previous year, and a review in early 2017 found that the changes to the questionnaire had resulted in a 15% inflation of visit volume reports. A data processing error was also identified which affected the results for Tourism Day Visits (TDV) taken in London, and therefore the total for England and Great Britain as a whole.

The revised figures now correspond more closely with the Great Britain Tourism Survey (GBTS) figures, which measures the volume and value of domestic overnight trips.

This survey found the total number of trips was down 4% in 2016, mainly attributed to a 9% decrease in the number of VFR (visiting friends and family) trips. The volume of holiday trips remained static at 55.9 million, while business trips rose slightly to 16.8 million.

The number of reported bednights was found to have declined more than the number of trips, and combined with the overall increase in day visits as found in the GBDVS, suggests that UK residents are increasingly switching from overnight trips to day visits.